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The situation with North Korea
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:42 am    Post subject: The situation with North Korea Reply with quote

Provocative Move
Russia deployed missile in violation of treaty
ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia has deployed a cruise missile in violation of a Cold War-era arms control treaty, a Trump administration official said Tuesday, a development that complicates the outlook for U.S.-Russia relations amid turmoil on the White House national security team.

The Obama administration three years ago accused the Russians of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing and testing the prohibited cruise missile, and officials had anticipated that Moscow eventually would deploy it. Russia denies that it has violated the INF treaty.

U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the missile became operational late last year, said an administration official, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the matter and demanded anonymity.

The deployment may not immediately change the security picture in Europe, but the alleged treaty violation may arise when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis attends his first NATO meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. It also has stirred concern on Capitol Hill, where Sen. John McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, called on the Trump administration to ensure U.S. nuclear forces in Europe are ready.

"Russia's deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the INF treaty is a significant military threat to U.S. forces in Europe and our NATO allies," McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement Tuesday. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin was "testing" Trump.

Trump's White House is in a difficult moment, with no national security adviser following the forced resignation Monday night of Michael Flynn. He is accused of misleading Vice President Mike Pence about contacts with a Russian diplomat while President Barack Obama was still in office.

Meanwhile, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday that a Russian intelligence-collection ship has been operating off the U.S. east coast, in international waters. The official was not authorized to discuss an intelligence matter and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The ship had made a port call in Cuba prior to moving north, where it has been monitored off the coast of Delaware, the official said.

The New York Times, which was first to report the missile deployment, said the Russians have two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile. One is at a missile test site at Kapustin Yar and one was moved in December from the test site to an operational base elsewhere in the country.

The State Department wouldn't confirm the report. It noted that last year it reported Russia was in violation of its treaty obligations not to possess, produce or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers for such missiles.

"The administration is undertaking an extensive review of Russia's ongoing INF treaty violation in order to assess the potential security implications for the United States and its allies and partners," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

John Tierney, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said strategic stability on the European continent is at stake.

"If true, Russia's deployment of an illegal ground-launched cruise missile represents a very troubling development and should be roundly condemned," Tierney said.

Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, sees little reason for the U.S. to continue adhering to the INF treaty, in light of Russia's violations. He has recommended building up U.S. nuclear forces in Europe, which currently include about 200 bombs that can be delivered by aircraft. The U.S. withdrew land-based nuclear-armed missiles from Europe as part of the INF deal.

The treaty has special significance in the recent history of arms control agreements. Signed in December 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, it has been credited with helping accelerate an end to the Cold War and lessening the danger of nuclear confrontation. It stands as the only arms treaty to eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Russian weapons — nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of intermediate range.

The Obama administration had argued for maintaining U.S. compliance with the treaty while urging the Russians to halt violations. At the same time, the Pentagon developed options to counter Russian cruise missile moves, some of which would have involved bold military action.

At his Senate confirmation hearing in February 2014, Ash Carter, who headed the Pentagon until last month, said disregard for treaty limitations was a "two-way street," opening the way for the U.S. to respond in kind. He called Russia's violations consistent with its "strategy of relying on nuclear weapons to offset U.S. and NATO conventional superiority."


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:11 am    Post subject: The wars of Vladimir Putin Reply with quote

To be read with a grain of salt...

by Karl Schlögel
Munich: Carl Hanser, 352 pp., €21.90
by Peter Pomerantsev
PublicAffairs, 241 pp., $25.99
Thomas Dworzak/Magnum PhotosVladimir Putin at an ice-skating event in Sochi, Russia, before the Olympics, April 2013

1989, the year that the Polish war reporter Paweł Pieniążek was born, was understood by some in the West as an end to history. After the peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe, what alternative was there to liberal democracy? The rule of law had won the day. European integration would help the weaker states reform and support the sovereignty of all. Peter Pomerantsev, the son of Soviet dissidents who emigrated to Britain in 1978, could “return” to Russia to work as an artist. Karl Schlögel, a distinguished German historian of Russian émigrés, could go straight to the sources in Moscow.

But was the West coming to the East, or the East to the West? By 2014, a quarter-century after the revolutions of 1989, Russia proposed a coherent alternative: faked elections, institutionalized oligarchy, national populism, and European disintegration. When Ukrainians that year made a revolution in the name of Europe, Russian media proclaimed the “decadence” of the EU, and Russian forces invaded Ukraine in the name of a “Eurasian” alternative.


There was no Orwell of the Ukrainian revolution, but readers of Schlögel and Pieniążek will get something like the everyday grit and political insight of Homage to Catalonia. Pieniążek risked his life to see what he saw, as did other brave and talented Western journalists.11 Along the way, perhaps, he benefited from the seemingly innocuous nature of his work. Because separatists believed that only television coverage mattered, they kept asking where his cameraman was. Perhaps because he was filing for print, Pieniążek found it easier to extend conversations and move from one side of the lines to the other. After he spent days with a separatist the two men realized that they had both been on the Maidan on the same day, the one beating and the other getting beaten. It says something about Pieniążek’s tact that he kept the relationship going. Pieniążek takes no stands and strikes no poses, but modestly exemplifies the old dissident ideal of seeking after small truths, at risk to oneself, in a world of big lies.

With similar humility, Pomerantsev presents his Russian friends as similar to his Western friends. Their world is just a turn of the kaleidoscope away. Since the publication of his book, Pomerantsev has noted the affinity of Trump’s propaganda with the Russian model. The fragility of Russia’s present regime is little consolation, since its methods of rule could work in the West; “here,” says Pomerantsev, “is going to be there.” If the sin of intellectuals in the twentieth century was to propose utopian visions, that of the twenty-first is to deny all possibility of change. Schlögel fears a new trahison des clercs, an abandonment of the search for truth that, says Pomerantsev, brings the bottomless skepticism that makes political action seem pointless. “We cannot give up,” Schlögel concludes, “on the difference between fact and fiction.” Some things are true, and some things are possible.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:57 am    Post subject: Pre-Emptive NK Strike Possible Reply with quote

Pre-Emptive NK Strike Possible

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that pre-emptive military action against North Korea is “an option on the table” and that the U.S. policy of “strategic patience” regarding the isolated nation is over. “Certainly we do not want to, for things to get to military conflict,” Tillerson told reporters at a Seoul press conference. “If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, then, that option’s on the table.” He also ruled out any negotiations to reach a deal on North Korea freezing its nuclear-weapons development program. Tillerson made the comments just one day after he’d issued public assurances that Pyongyang “need not fear” the U.S. and could just abandon its “dangerous and unlawful” nuclear-weapons program. The former ExxonMobil CEO is on his first trip to Asia as a U.S. diplomat. On Friday, he visited the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas. Japan held its first missile drill Friday in the wake of North Korea’s recent ballistic-missile test firings into waters off its coast.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:42 pm    Post subject: Going towards WW3? Reply with quote

That idiot Trump, barely 2 months in office, he plunges us again in the meanders of the cold war and eventually will lead us to WW3. The worst is that once again, NATO, the UN and the EU are totally out of it and we are Trump's and Putin's hostages!

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia reacted to U.S. military strikes on its ally Syria Friday by cutting a hotline intended to prevent midair incidents, a response that demonstrates Moscow's readiness to defy Washington and could even put the two nuclear superpowers on a course toward military confrontation.

President Vladimir Putin signaled he was ready to risk a clash with the U.S. and abandon hopes for mending ties with the U.S. under President Donald Trump, rather than accept the humiliation of standing by while his ally is bombed.

Russia's decision to suspend the hotline established after the launch of the Russian air campaign in Syria in September 2015 effectively means that Russian and U.S. planes could fly dangerously close to each other during combat missions, raising the risk of inadvertent or deliberate clashes in the crowded skies over Syria.

By freezing the information channel between the two potent militaries, Russia is signaling to Washington that it will tolerate no further strikes on Syrian government facilities.
Syria has aging Soviet-built aircraft and air defense missile systems, while Russia has deployed dozens of its cutting edge warplanes and air defense batteries at its base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia. It also has a strategically important naval outpost in the Syrian port of Tartus, which is protected by air defense assets.

Further upping the ante, the Russian Defense Ministry said it will now help strengthen Syrian air defenses.

U.S. officials accused Russia of failing to ensure Syrian President Bashar Assad's commitment to a 2013 deal for the destruction of Assad's chemical weapons arsenal. The U.S. says that arsenal was tapped for a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.

Trump cited the chemical attack as justification for the missile strike on a Syrian air base. But the Kremlin insists Assad's government wasn't responsible for the attack, saying civilians in Khan Sheikhoun were exposed to toxic agents from a rebel arsenal that was hit by Syrian warplanes.

"President Putin believes that the U.S. strikes on Syria represent an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement. "Washington's move deals a significant blow to Russia-U.S. relations, which are already in deplorable shape."

Until the attack on the Syrian air base, the U.S. had avoided striking Assad's forces for fear of provoking a clash with the Russian military.

The action comes ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's trip to Moscow next week.
The Kremlin initially had been encouraged by Trump's goal of repairing ties with Moscow, which plunged to post-Cold War lows under President Barack Obama, but hopes for a thaw have withered amid the congressional investigation of possible links between Trump campaign officials and Russia. The U.S. missile strike could make it all but impossible to improve relations.

"Some people here thought that it would be easy to deal with Trump," Yelena Suponina, a Moscow-based Mideast expert, said in televised remarks. "No, it will be very difficult. He's not only ready to make tough decisions, he is unpredictable."

Mikhail Yemelyanov, a senior member of the lower house of parliament, warned that the U.S. action raised the threat of a direct clash between Russia and the U.S.
"Consequences could be grave, up to military confrontation and exchange of blows, nothing can be excluded," he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Tillerson said Russia had "failed in its responsibility" to deliver on a 2013 deal it helped broker to destroy Syria's chemical arsenal.

"So either Russia has been complicit, or Russia has been simply incompetent on its ability to deliver," he said.

By ordering the strike, Trump threatened the military assets of Assad, who has enjoyed Russia's support throughout the six-year conflict. Russia's military has helped turn the war in Assad's favor and Moscow has used its U.N. Security Council veto to protect Damascus from censure.

Russia also has important military facilities in Syria that could be put at risk if Assad is removed from power, a goal of Western powers that had recently been put on the back burner because of the focus on fighting Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Peskov said the U.S. gave Russia advance notice about the strike. He added that Moscow believes it makes no sense to maintain the hotline.

Asked if the decision to freeze the information exchange could raise the risk of midair incidents, Peskov said it was the U.S. attack that increased such danger.
Peskov wouldn't say if Russia could use its military assets to protect Syrian facilities from future U.S. strikes.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russia will quickly "strengthen the Syrian air defense system and increase its efficiency in order to protect Syria's most sensitive infrastructure facilities."
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject: N. Korea Says Nuke Test Still Planned Reply with quote

N. Korea Says Nuke Test Still Planned
North Korea Says It Will Hold Nuke Test When It Sees Fit

North Korea’s vice foreign minister said early Friday that the country would carry out its next nuclear test whenever its authorities see fit, amid mounting concerns in the West that a test launch may be scheduled for Saturday. Vice Minister Han Song Ryol told the Associated Press that Pyongyang won’t “keep its arm crossed” as the U.S. hints at a pre-emptive strike over the country’s nuclear ambitions. Describing tensions on the Korean Peninsula as a “vicious cycle,” Han did not say when the country would carry out its next nuclear test, though analysts have warned that the next test may be scheduled for Saturday to coincide with the birthday of Kim Il Sung, leader Kim Jong Un’s grandfather. Washington and Pyongyang have been butting heads more than usual in recent days after the U.S. Navy deployed a strike group near the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s “provocations.” Han’s comments also came after U.S. President Trump on Thursday offered a curt response to the ongoing spat with Pyongyang. “North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of,” Trump said, according to Reuters. The president went on to say he believes Beijing will help rein in North Korea’s nuclear threats. “I have really gotten to like and respect President Xi.... He’s a very special...

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:03 pm    Post subject: The Day the U.S. Strikes North Korea Reply with quote

The Day the U.S. Strikes North Korea
It would have to be big enough but not too big—enough to do damage but not enough to make Kim think we seek regime change. Not easy.
Tom Rogan

The U.S. military is bolstering its North Korea-related capabilities. Via his tweets and the diverted Carl Vinson carrier strike group, President Trump is sending a clear message to China: exert diplomatic influence over Kim Jong-un, or America will use coercion. Trump’s strategic objective: Kim’s suspension of his intercontinental ballistic missile program.

It’s a high-stakes game.

As columnist John Schindler notes, assessing North Korean strategy is exceptionally difficult. The U.S. intelligence community has long struggled to infiltrate the Kim dynasty’s fortress-hermit kingdom. South Korean and Japanese intelligence services have had more success, but they also struggle. Particularly problematic today, Kim’s behavior suggests mental instability. This is not a joke.

Effective U.S. diplomacy has rarely been more crucial.

Still, if diplomacy fails and Trump authorizes military action against North Korea’s ballistic missile program, we can make basic assessments as to its likely form.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:07 pm    Post subject: North Korea on verge of starting World War 3 Reply with quote

Defcon nuclear threat level INCREASED as North Korea on verge of starting World War 3
THE AMERICAN nuclear warning system DefCon has been quickly upgraded to threat level FOUR as tensions between North Korea and China, along with the US, reach boiling point.
By Zoie O'Brien

Kim Jong-Un’s hermit nation is expected to test a nuclear missile tomorrow, while US president Trump has sent a naval ‘armada’ to the region.

China has imposed economic sanctions on its trade partner, but all three nations have said they are ready for war.

Talk turned to action as the US ships set sail for the South China Sea - after Trump vowed to act against war-hungry Jong-Un.

The country has been warned numerous times to end its missile testing, with experiments seeing ordnance land in the sea off Japan.

But it shows no sign of change.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:11 pm    Post subject: North Korea Threat Heats Up Reply with quote

North Korea Threat Heats Up, but South Koreans Keep Their Cool
Concerns about a possible military confrontation are drowned out by the rhythms of daily life in Seoul
By Jonathan Cheng and Min Sun Lee
April 14, 2017 7:17 a.m. ET

SEOUL—The possibility of a military confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea is dominating headlines across South Korea, but in the streets of Seoul, concerns about a North Korean missile or nuclear test—or even a pre-emptive U.S. military strike—are drowned out by the rhythms of daily life.

Trump Sees North Korea as Top Threat

In an Oval Office interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, President Trump affirmed that North Korea is the U.S.'s biggest international threat. WSJ's Gerald F. Seib gives us more insight on what Mr. Trump had to say about Washington's posture toward Pyongyang.

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/north-korea-threat-heats-up-but-south-koreans-keep-their-cool-1492168634

Video can be viewed at link above.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:43 am    Post subject: How the President Could Stumble Into Conflict Reply with quote

How the President Could Stumble Into Conflict

Foreign Affairs Magazine
Comment May/June 2017 Issue
A Vision of Trump at War
How the President Could Stumble Into Conflict
By Philip Gordon

Just a few months into the Trump administration, it still isn’t clear
what course the president’s foreign policy will ultimately take. What is
clear, however, is that the impulsiveness, combativeness, and recklessness
that characterized Donald Trump’s election campaign have survived the
transition into the presidency. Since taking office, Trump has continued
to challenge accepted norms, break with diplomatic traditions, and respond
to perceived slights or provocations with insults or threats of his own.
The core of his foreign policy message is that the United States will no
longer allow itself to be taken advantage of by friends or foes abroad.
After decades of “losing” to other countries, he says he is going to
put “America first” and start winning again.

It could be that Trump is simply staking out tough bargaining positions as
a tactical matter, the approach to negotiations he has famously called
“the art of the deal.” President Richard Nixon long ago developed the
“madman theory,” the idea that he could frighten his adversaries into
believing he was so volatile he might do something crazy if they failed to
meet his demands—a tactic that Trump, whose reputation for volatility is
firmly established, seems particularly well suited to employ.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:56 pm    Post subject: On the brink of thermonuclear war Reply with quote

U.S.-North Korea Nuclear War ‘May Break Out at Any Moment,’ Pyongyang’s UN Ambassador Says


North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Kim In-ryong, said at a press conference Monday that the United States has “created a dangerous situation in which a thermo-nuclear war may break out at any moment.”

The comments come at a time of rapidly increasing tension between North Korea and the United States over its continued nuclear and missile tests. Speaking at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Kim excoriated the U.S. for more than 30 minutes, stating that it was solely to blame for an escalation in rhetoric and the push toward military confrontation.

“The U.S. introduced in South Korea, the Korean peninsula, the world’s biggest hotspot, a huge nuclear strategic asset, seriously threatening the peace and security of the peninsula and pushing it to the brink of war,” he said. “It has created a dangerous situation in which a thermo-nuclear war may break out at any moment on the peninsula and poses a serious threat to the world peace and security to say nothing of those in Northeast Asia.”

Kim accused the U.S. of engaging in repeated military exercises in the peninsula. He added that the U.S. was “hell bent on dangerous saber rattling and criminal harassment of the peace in the peninsula and the rest of Northeast Asia.”

He went on to say that “the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited South Korea over the weekend and, speaking alongside the country’s acting President, Hwang Kyo-ahn, delivered a sharp warning to the regime of Kim Jong-un.

“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” he said. “North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

Kim In-ryong responded Monday by criticizing the United States’ missile strikes against Syria as further evidence that it is “disturbing global peace and stability and insisting on gangster-like logic.”

Also Monday, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol told the BBC that the country would “be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.” He added that an “all-out war” would occur if the U.S. was “reckless enough to use military means.”

On Sunday, North Korea carried out its latest ballistic missile test but it failed shortly after being launched.
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